A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Elf Pets: Santa's Reindeer Rescue feels a lot like a 26-minute animated informercial to sell toy Elf Pets (shown in their packages here) as well as The Elf on the Shelf toy made by the company that produced this film. While there is nothing scary or inappropriate for young viewers, the lack of a coherent story does suggest this is more about selling toys than it is about promoting Christmas spirit, even as it touts the depth of children's faith and the importance of love. Expect kids who see this to ask for the toys on display.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Those familiar with Elf on the Shelf toys will know the original story -- parents purchase toys advertised as "magical" elves that monitor children's behavior and report back to the North Pole every night. In ELF PETS: SANTA'S REINDEER RESCUE, those elves enlist human kids to take on mini-reindeer as pets to help carry Santa's sleigh. The animated short features a few songs and will provide a nice tie-in to kids who already have the toys this movie advertises. The movie is written and directed by Chanda Bell. She and her twin sister Christa Pitts and their mom, Carol Aebersold, wrote and self-published The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, the original children's book that helped launch The Elf on the Shelf toy company in 2004.
Is it any good?
Nothing about Elf Pets: Santa's Reindeer Rescue is particularly original, delightful, or offensive. For kids who have the toys being advertised here, this 26-minute animation may provide a harmless diversion. The story doesn't make much sense as it's taken up with solving a seemingly non-existent problem. Santa's sleigh has always worked just fine until now, hasn't it? Why are mini-reindeer necessary? Is there a shortage of regular-sized ones? Why do kids need to temporarily own the latest product, stuffed mini-reindeer (shown in the company's recognizable plastic packaging), and keep them at home when the final goal is to grow them big and strong enough so they can go back to Santa to guide his sleigh?
Muddy logic aside, the best thing this has going for it is that kids like to contemplate the pre-Christmas work Santa and his elves perform to get everyone their presents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different holiday traditions. Some families that celebrate Christmas buy elf toys that are supposed to watch kids and report each night to Santa on their behavior. Do you do that at your house?
What are some other holiday traditions that don't require buying toys advertised by this film?
Why is it fun to think about magical powers and a sleigh that can fly thousands of miles through the air?
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